General Article Sexualised, mocked and fed to the wolves: why the Britney Spears story shames us all

Topic Selected: Sexualising Society Book Volume: 386

As new documentary Framing Britney makes clear, the pop star was cruelly vilified from an early age. Is so much different today? 

By Kate Solomon

On 7 February, as the Super Bowl kicked off in the US and most of the UK lay sleeping, a hashtag overwhelmed the trending topics on Twitter. Nothing to do with sports or slumber, it read in fervent capitals WE ARE SORRY BRITNEY.

Casual fans had settled in to watch the New York Times’ documentary Framing Britney Spears, perhaps hoping for a bit of nostalgia, a touch of drama and some chance to remind themselves of the hectic period of Spears’ life when she was never off the front pages for all the wrong reasons. Instead, viewers were forced to reckon with their own role in the star’s mistreatment at the hands of the media, her family, the legal system and popular culture as a whole.

If you were to write a guide on how not to interview a teenage girl, where would you start? Would you perhaps begin by insisting that the septuagenarian intervi...

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